Response to Evil

by Morris Ruddick on November 23, 2014


© Morris E. Ruddick


“Lord, You have set up a banner for those who fear You, a standard displayed because of the truth. That Your beloved ones may be delivered, save with Your right hand and answer us.” Ps 60:3-5

Mind-sets are a compilation of assumptions that influence how we live our lives. They are the predispositions of our attitudes which determine how we respond to the circumstances wreck1around us. Mind-sets shape an individual’s behavior. Cultural mind-sets mold the identity shared by a people.

Working with believers in cultures where freedom is at risk has often challenged me to take a closer look at my own individual and cultural mind-sets. One culture I’ve worked with in particular includes a number of leaders who have spent extended time in hard-labor prisons for their faith. The intent of these incarcerations of brutal conditions was to undermine their faith. It had the opposite effect.

In each case, I’ve been struck by the strength of character, decision-priorities and genuine humility of these friends who bear these brand-marks of their faith. On the other hand, what I have not observed is the focus that the West can give to issues that impact the soul. In conditions designed to break their spirit, those issues included severe deprivation of such essentials as having enough food to live and the realities of facing death.

In short, what I have witnessed has been a distinct absence of a victim’s mentality. In lands of persecution, almost everyone has a story of tragedy and serious loss. Yet, contrary to Western predispositions, the choice has been to put their tragic pasts behind them to more fully live in “the now.”
“Forgetting those things that are behind and reaching forth for that which is ahead.” Phil 3:13

Paul’s admonition is not to “stuff it,” but rather to renew our minds and make a choice to transform our thinking by giving focus to remembering those things that are true, noble, just, pure and of good report (Phil 4:8). That’s the rallying banner. It’s the standard upheld by those we regard as heroes of faith.

Foundations to How We Respond
At the core of the way of the Kingdom is how we respond to evil. Our mind-sets play a significant role in this response. The first premise is that we cannot hope for much by responding in our own strength or cleverness, no matter how much we verbalize it. It takes a great deal more, even for the most talented.

The opening Scripture is about that added dimension that only comes through God. It is from a Psalm describing a people who have strayed and lost the power and protection of God against evil. It outlines the need to be restored and highlights what is required to maintain that place in which God intervenes on their behalf.

Over the centuries, the Lord has imparted banners and standards for the good of His people. They serve an initial function to help us avoid the subtleties of evil. When ignored, they still provide the means of deliverance, although at a higher cost when evil inroads can only be met by judgment.

The banner displayed gives first priority to embracing the unequivocal fear of the Lord. That calls for a choice. The standard then sets the stage to unveil the truth and the reality of God that empowers deliverance. It is the foundation from which we can cry out to the Lord and expect the manifestation of His power.

Bondages result when God’s supernatural standards are watered down with the natural. Within the Body are many who enjoy God’s blessings yet are constrained from crossing the boundaries into what is represented by the fullness of their callings. The constraints typically are self-imposed, driven by precepts of men, with the standards influenced by both individual and cultural mind-sets and predispositions.

The response to evil draws a line in the sand. Not recklessly or arbitrarily, but rather as a choice and a priority to uphold the standard. That choice is contrary to the way the world responds. That sometimes means sacrifice. Yet, that choice is the very foundation that Jesus imparted to His followers during His three year earthly ministry.

The Subtle Influence
For years I have worked with men and women of God being prepared with modern-day Joseph-type callings. The calling of God in the marketplace is not one of position or status, but a calling of influence. The influence evolves around establishing God’s standard against evil, harnessing resources, and bringing deliverance and transformation within the infrastructures of the world’s systems.

Yet, again and again the pressures and subtleties faced by these modern-day Josephs bring challenge and distortion to their mantles. With the distractions and deceptions, the result is being drawn into safe-places, of spiritually treading water.

As an illustration of the subtleties that distort and diminish the standard, the Western media has long advanced a cultural mind-set that turns returning military heroes into victims. It has undermined the standard of the cause of freedom with subtle, downgraded and distorted moralizations. The brand-marks of true heroes are then dishonored and reduced to pity.

Pilate’s challenge to Jesus was based on this very premise: that Jesus was facing death and Pilate had the authority to release Him. Jesus’ response to Pilate was that his authority was limited and defined only by the Father. Figuratively speaking, Jesus spit in the face of death. Jesus was never a victim. His response refused a mind-set of pity, as He held to the standard.

Jesus said He came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill, to bring completion to them. He drew a line in the sand with destruction and death. Yet, until the time He was turned over to Pilate and Herod to face crucifixion, the focus of His earthly ministry dealt with the response to evil within the household of faith.
“From the days of John the Baptist, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force.” Matt 11:12

The Evil Within
The evil within the household of faith is far more subtle than the evil from outside the community of God’s people. Ranging from factors such as obsessive introspection leading to majoring in minors and spiritual myopia to outright misuses of authority, the result has long been a people of feeble power, fragmented and divided.

Nevertheless, overcoming these vulnerabilities represents the cohesive foundation needed to maximize the power in responding to evil coming from the world’s system. No one group has the total picture, which is why we need one another. The level to which the evil within the community of God’s people is properly addressed will be the level destabilizing and diluting the impact of the evil lurking outside the camp.
“Do not be afraid of the sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being taken.” Prov 3:25-26

The inroads of evil into the household of faith find their seedbed in mind-sets, the most devilish being religious mind-sets. Instead of being the influencers and overcomers, the Body has systematically become culturally compliant and spiritually anemic. The perception is viewed as the reality. Most purveyors of news are no longer presenting facts, but rather the spin of events within the view of a creeping system of godless values and evil-intended priorities.

In God’s eyes, the reality is based on the standard. God’s standard is the driver for our mind-sets, the factor that determines what is right and the priorities we ascribe in stewarding our destinies. That standard is then wielded to the degree that our thinking and actions are in oneness with Him.
“Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads and look. Then ask for the ancient paths where the good way lies. Then walk in it and you will find rest for your souls.” Jer 6:16

When God’s people are in alignment with Him, His glory will manifest. God’s glory manifested when King David brought God’s people together. That was King David’s greatest accomplishment and will be the standard for the model in the millennium.

To grasp the dynamics needed to realize the release of God’s glory in the face of evil requires a closer look at what pride really is, how true humility upholds the standard and the role of suffering. With that is the need to understand how the Word of God defines wickedness within the ranks of the household of faith.

The Seduction of Pride. There is a fine line between pride and honor. True honor comes from God. Pride, however, is self-created and rails against the knowledge of God. Self-righteousness is based on pride. It seduces and distorts. The Bible says that pride is like death and cannot be satisfied (Hab 2:5).

Jesus addressed this dynamic manifesting with the Pharisees. They reached for the standard and missed. Their elitism and self-serving ambition for status and power pushed them away from God. It manifested in the mind-sets and the priorities they gave to the way they lived their lives. Jesus called them hypocrites because of their spiritual myopia.

The history of God’s people is filled with stories of “strays” who have misused their authority and operated under short-sighted, prideful illusions of their own significance in their stewardship of God’s power. The Bible describes them as wicked.

Proverbs 12:5-7 draws a sharp comparison between the righteous and the wicked. It applies within the boundaries of God’s people. The divergence is between being just and operating with treachery and deceit. It speaks of the wicked seeking to entrap, of being ensnared by their own words, while the righteous maintain their integrity through backlash to emerge not only whole, but with new dimensions of purpose and enlightenment. Remember Job’s response to his “friends” and the later end for Job.
“When Job prayed for his friends the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as before.” Job 42:10

It is the way of the Kingdom to respond to evil with good. In short, the root of the righteous, defined by this standard, cannot be moved or uprooted (Prov 12:3). It emphasizes our complete dependency on God and the importance of humility and a listening heart in maintaining the standard to stay the pathway.

Humility and a Listening Heart. At the core of a righteous heart is the humility that comes from a genuine listening heart. We continually need to be hearing from God and the truth of His Word. We likewise need the wisdom from those who have gone before us as well as the God-fearing whose orientations are not constrained by our own search for what is truth.
“[The Bereans] were more fair-minded…. in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” Acts 17:11

That’s not to suggest a potpourri of opinions, but rather the discernment of the essentials needed to grasp the biblical standard guiding the steps of the community of faith. The need calls for more than a doctrinal statement on a web-site.

The world we live in, along with today’s factionalized Body demands strategic-level wisdom in establishing the scriptural common ground of how we come together and how we operate as the community of faith — in a way that draws the world.
“You are the light of the world, a city [community] set on a hill that cannot be hidden.” Matt 5:14

The homosexual community mapped out just such a strategy roughly three decades ago. They have exceeded their goals. But then Jesus observed that the sons of this world can be more shrewd in operating with their own kind, than the sons of Light. To have a story to tell begins WITHIN the household of faith, with the degree to which we are listening to one another. The common ground involves how we OPERATE together. That will require humility.

Humility toward God and others is a Kingdom key. It is an igniter for unity. Humility is the shield against pride and the fear of man. Paul described the ultimate spiritual enemy we are dealing with as death. True humility inoculates us against the fear of man and the age-old seductions of death and destruction.

The Response and Role of Suffering. People who have faced death in combat and survived, understand the reality involved in face-offs that “cheat” death. Winston Churchill was a man who over the course of his life had many encounters with death. He was intimately acquainted with how evil operated. His demeaner was fearless. His consistently big-picture response was to uphold the standard against evil.

When he was made Prime Minister, what he was dealing with was a faceoff with death. Hitler’s machine had conquered most of the European continent. Churchill was surrounded by those seeking to appease evil. As irreverent and as unorthodox as Churchill could be, he was much like a modern-day Cyrus. God knew and called Cyrus long before Cyrus knew there to be such a One as the God of Israel.

In the world of 1940, Hitler may have been the human mechanism, but it was death that was on the march. In its grip were the chosen of God, with the anemic stewardship of the Lord’s standard in the crucible. Churchill’s response to death, to this amassing evil was to draw a line in the sand. Not unlike King David, with wisdom beyond his own brilliance, he rallied the free world and brought them into unity.

The response involved a time of extreme sacrifice and suffering. Historically, times of great revival have been directly correlated with times of sacrifice and suffering. So it is that we find ourselves today with evil amassing before us.

The Big-Picture Response
These are times described in Isaiah 60 as when darkness is covering the earth and deep darkness the people. Evil has aggressively come out of the closet. The clarion call for the household of faith is to give heed to the big-picture and gird up the loins of our mind-sets. Humility and listening hearts, along with facing the realities is no longer an option.

“While following the way of your judgments, we have eagerly waited for You. At night my soul longs for You. Indeed my spirit seeks you diligently. For when the earth experiences Your judgments, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” Isa 26:8-10

The need is to redirect the focus of the energies given to the fund-raising soap boxes, and sweep aside the idols occupying our minds (Ezek 14:5). In responding to the big picture of what is happening around us, is the need to draw a line in the sand, calling the evil within for what it is and to begin giving focus to the strategies needed to fully draw on our Great Equalizer in facing the realities.

Peter notes (1 Peter 4:17) that judgment first comes to the household of faith. Jesus said that each would be seasoned with fire and every sacrifice seasoned with salt (Mark 9:49). That’s the mix, it is the cost required to be carriers of His presence. In facing the disarray and division, it is time for the household of faith to uphold the big-picture standard, serve as God’s calling card, as He draws all men to Himself.
“We have a strong city [community]. Lord, You have established and strengthened our walls and ramparts. So, open the gates, that all who are righteous may enter, the ones who have remained faithful. The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. For in You we have an everlasting Rock.” Isa 26:1-7

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